Speaking in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday, July 27th, the British Prime Minister David Cameron animatedly declared the "UK strongly supports Turkey EU membership bid" and furthermore, the UK would do everything in its power to help "pave the road from Ankara to Brussels."
Turkey applied for accession to the European Union April of 1987. To accede to the EU, Turkey must complete negotiations with the Commission on each of the thirty-five chapters of the aquis communautaire, the total body of EU law. As of last month, only thirteen of these chapters have been opened for discussion and one of them provisionally closed.
For the members of the European Union, the decision to accept Turkey into the EU is two-facetted. After all, there is a reason why the EU is so stuck about whether or not admitting Turkey is a good idea. The split can be simplified neatly into two perspectives: the internal and the external.
Internally, Turkey joining the European Union does not bode well for France or Germany. Right now, France and Germany, with two of the most large and populous countries in the European Union, control decisions in the population proportionate parliament. However, Turkey has a much larger population Turkey joining the European Union would shift the balance of power in the European Parliament overnight. In essence, Turkey would become the leading opinion in the EU, and the decision maker with the most weight. To France and Germany, this seems preposterous: after all, isn't Turkey more of a middle eastern country than a European country? France and Germany have driven European unification and the founding of the European Union since the very beginning, and many within these countries believe that it is very much in the interest of the European Union to have France and Germany leading the decision process.
Externally, Turkey's enlargement proves to be what would only be a good decision. To begin with the most basic - if we are, as the British do, to consider the EU a primarily economic union - Turkey's economy is enough to power the whole of the existing European Union. The demographics of Turkey show that there is a large youth population boom that will enter the work force in the next decade. This demographic quality has been, historically, responsible for the advent of many economic superpowers. China's economic rise has been powered by a large boom in the youth population. Turkey is predicted to be the second fastest growing economy in the world within a decade. Furthermore, Turkey is the gateway to the Middle East. The power and influence that would beget the European Union is key for a continent often at odds with this region of the world.
Of course, we are oversimplifying. Cyprus remains a turning point issue in the question of Turkey's accession to the EU. NATO has been grinded to a standstill by the tension – with Cyprus part of the EU and Turkey, a member of NATA, unwilling to acknowledge the country's independence. Negotiations talks have been underway for some time, but recently the problem has been acerbated by the nationalistic Turkish party winning the elections in the Turkish part of Cyprus. As of today, all negotiations have been halted.
But, if we are to be realistic, the facts and opinions all boil down to one simple question that the members of the European Union need to decide: what is Europe? What does it mean to be European? Where does enlargement end? Is Europe an idea, or are geographical boundaries innately tied to the word? Europe needs to stop expanding and take some time to think about what we are. Europe needs to integrate. Europe needs to be defined. And until that is done, we cannot move forward.
So, quo vadis Europa?
Watch a part of Cameron's speech: via BBC.
VISIT: The Embassy of Turkey in Brussels.